Welcome to Child Development


To be able to work collaboratively and individually to develop specific knowledge and skills, such as planning and reviewing. To focus, with maturity and empathy on the learning, development and care of children from birth to five years. 


Why learn Child Development?

Knowledge of child development is also important in a variety of occupations outside of childcare, for example, in healthcare roles such as paediatricians, psychologists, occupational therapists, and speech and language therapists.

Level 2 Child Development courses can take you onto a level 3 course, at Post-16, or assist with securing an apprenticeship in the Child Care sector. 

Year 10

During year 10, students will study the following topics:

Fertile question: How can our growth and development from birth to five go on to shape the rest of our lives?

A1 Understand the difference between growth and development:  


  • changes to physical size, the skeleton, muscles and the brain, children’s height, weight and head circumference. 
  • how growth is measured and plotted, e.g. centile charts. 
  • reasons why growth is measured and plotted, e.g. to ensure consistency with expected patterns, to highlight potential issues at an early stage. 


  • the skills and knowledge gained by a child over time. 
  • children acquiring skills at varying rates in different areas of development. 
  • milestones, sometimes called developmental norms, indicating the stage of development the child may meet at a particular age
  • holistic development – supporting children to progress across all areas of development (physically, intellectually and cognitively, communication and language, socially,  and emotionally).

Physical development:

  • infant reflexes – rooting and sucking, startle reflex, grasping reflex, walking reflex.
  • control over the body – motor sequence of development, including head and trunk control, rolling and turning, sitting upright, crawling, standing with help, walking with help, standing without support, walking without support.
  • development of the senses – sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. 
  • gross motor skills – large movement of limbs, developing locomotion, balance, hand-eye coordination.
  • fine motor skills – movement of fingers, developing hand-eye coordination. 

Cognitive and intellectual development:

  • development of information processing – attention span, responds to pitch and tone, recognises self, responding to own name, building up to vocabulary of approximately 2000 words, learning to read and write basic words.
  • memory – recognition of familiar objects and people, songs and rhymes.
  • problem-solving skills – exploring objects with hands and mouth, counting and sorting objects by colour and size.


Fertile question: What factors can affect the growth and development of babies?

Communication and language development: 

  • development of speech sounds and language skills. 
  • listening and attention skills, including responding to sounds, responding to name, understanding instructions of varying steps. 
  • social skills – smiling; babbling; interacting with others by combining words, gestures and sounds; speaking in turn.
  • formation of sentences – from single words to up to nine-word sentences.

Social development:

  • development of secure, positive relationships with others, including attachment to primary caregivers.
  • the importance of primary and secondary socialisation. 
  • building confidence and self-esteem.
  • development of friendships.

Emotional development:

  • ways that children attract attention of caregivers – crying, turning their head, smiling, giggling. 
  • development of bonds and trust – positive relationships; recognition of familiar caregivers; wariness of unfamiliar and unknown others. 
  • increase in independence – exploring the environment independently, development of self-soothing skills. 
  • developing emotional resilience – learning how to cope with emotions, including testing boundaries, understanding cause and effect of feelings and behaviours, learning how to manage feelings and frustrations. 

Fertile question: What factors can influence a child’s wellbeing?

Explore factors that affect growth and development:

Learners will explore the different factors that can affect a child’s growth and development from birth to five years old. Different factors will have an impact on different aspects of growth  and development. Learners will consider the impact of factors in the following life stages: 

Main life stages:

  • 0–18 months
  • 18 months–3 years
  • 3–5 years.


  • prenatal – genetics and how genetic abnormalities occur (e.g. Down's syndrome, muscular dystrophy), maternal nutrition/exercise, effects of parental drug or substance abuse, premature/low birth weight, mother’s mental health. 
  • health status – chronic or life limiting illness.
  • diet and dietary deficiencies. 
  • amount of exercise. 


  • housing – living in areas of deprivation or experiencing housing needs.
  • home environment – living with a high level of parental conflict, experiences of abuse and neglect. 
  • effects of exposure to drugs, alcohol and smoking.


  • experiences of discrimination on social, racial or cultural grounds. 
  • income and poverty – unemployed and workless families, access to good early education experiences (e.g. nursery and preschool).  
  • poor relationships with significant adults – level of warmth, affection and attention received.

Fertile question: How and why do children play?

Stages of children’s play:  

  • Unoccupied play, birth–3 months: movements with arms, legs, hands, feet etc., learning how their muscles move. 
  • Solitary play, birth–2 years: a child plays alone. 
  • Spectator/onlooker play, 2 years: a child watches other children play but does not play with them. 
  • Parallel play, 2+ years: a child plays alongside or near others but does not play with them. 
  • Associative play, 3–4 years: a child starts to interact with others during play but there is not a large amount of interaction. 
  • Co-operative play, 4+ years: a child interacts fully with others and has interest in both the activity and other children involved.

Fertile question: How does play contribute to emotional development of children?

Learning through physical play:

  • spatial awareness – eye coordination, foot and leg coordination,  hand-eye coordination. 
  • activities to stay healthy, how to take care of yourself. 
  • gross motor skills – body management, strength, bodily coordination.  
  • fine motor control – accuracy and manipulation of objects.

Activities and resources for physical play and learning: 

  • role play of homelife situations (e.g. cooking, mealtimes, baby bath time).
  • food preparation, snack times, hand washing.
  • bat and ball games. 
  • tricycles.
  • bicycles.
  • sit-and-ride toys.
  • climbing frames, swings, slides. 
  • creative activities – crayons, pens, paint brushes, paper, scissors, needles,  threads, beads. 
  • playdough, sand and water activities. 
  • construction toys, e.g. small bricks, small-world toys. 

Cognitive and intellectual play and learning:

  • learning promoted through cognitive and intellectual play.
  • problem-solving skills. 
  • creativity.  
  • use of imagination.  
  • listening and attention skills.
  • numeracy skills. 
  • exploration of environments inside and outside. 
  • confidence using technology.


Fertile question: What factors can influence a child’s wellbeing?

How play can be organised to promote learning:

Learners must be able to describe how play can be organised and the potential advantages and disadvantages of each style. 

Adult-led play: 

  • adults plan, organise and lead the children in a play activity. 
  • potential benefits – can include higher-risk activities where children can learn specific skills and how to use resources and equipment safely, the adult can introduce new vocabulary. 
  • potential disadvantages – learning is limited by the adult’s choice of activity and time given to it, limited repetition of the activity to enhance learning new skills. 

Adult-initiated play:

  • adult puts out resources and toys that prompt children to play in a certain way. 
  • potential benefits – encourages children to try playing in new ways and develop new skills, more effective for promoting independent learning skills. 
  • potential disadvantages – children may not learn expected skill or concept. 

Child-initiated play:  

  • children choose resources and how to play with them. 
  • potential benefits – children can develop their own ideas more freely, increased opportunities for the development of social skills.  
  • potential disadvantages – a child may focus on one area of learning or development repeatedly, ignoring others, learning may be limited without an adult to expand on  learning opportunities. 

The role of adults in promoting learning through play:  

Organise a variety of activities: 

  • inside/outside activities. 
  • individual/group activities, including games.  
  • sensory activities, art and craft activities, games. 

Explaining and demonstrating how equipment and resources work.
Adapting activities to suit personal interests. 
Choosing equipment and resources that motivate children to engage – promote exploring, encourage questioning, set challenges, allow sufficient time for activities.